With the Democratic Party reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble after Hillary Clinton’s widely unexpected loss on Tuesday, lawmakers are desperately searching for a fresh face to lead the party into its next phase.
One name that’s emerging from the crowd is Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, and a black man who became the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2007.
Ellison is also blissfully untainted by the Democratic establishment–a major strength coming out of an election where voters so soundly rejected the status quo. He has Sen. Bernie Sanders, everyone’s favorite political outsider, in his corner. Ellison was one of Sanders’ few congressional colleagues who backed him during the primary. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’s set to be the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, also reportedly supports Ellison.
The congressman has not formally put himself in the running for the Democratic National Committee’s top job, but he has already positioned himself as a vocal critic of president-elect Donald Trump. He is also one of the rare few who saw Trump’s meteoric rise coming, and has earned retrospective praise for this July 2015 warning not to underestimate Trump, which was laughed off by his fellow panelists.
It’s not an enviable job. Reports indicate that there’s already vocal dissent among rank-and-file Democrats over the direction of the party. The next leader will be tasked with lighting a path forward for a broad coalition party while somehow earning back the white working class voters that flocked to Trump.
Faced with Hillary Clinton surrogate Donna Brazile, the interim chair, and screamer-turned-lobbyist Howard Dean, Ellison–at least so far–looks like the only viable candidate to revive a party on life support.